Libya, NATO’s litmus test
Fools rush in
A “positive force” for change? “Crisis management?” What do these very large terms mean?
“NATO is an active and leading contributor to peace and security on the international stage. Through its crisis management operations, the Alliance demonstrates both its willingness to act as a positive force for change and its capacity to meet the security challenges of the 21st century.
Since its first military intervention in 1995, NATO has been engaged in an increasingly diverse array of operations. Today, roughly 140 000 military personnel are engaged in NATO missions around the world, successfully managing complex ground, air and naval operations in all types of environment. These forces are currently operating in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Libya, the Mediterranean, off the Horn of Africa, in Iraq and in Somalia.”
NATO is a force against pirates. OK.
“Counter-piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off the Horn of Africa
From October to December 2008, NATO launched Operation Allied Provider, which involved counter-piracy activities off the coast of Somalia. Responding to a request from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, NATO naval forces provided escorts to UN World Food Programme (WFP) vessels transiting through the dangerous waters in the Gulf of Aden, where growing piracy has threatened to undermine international humanitarian efforts in Africa.”
NATO helped Pakistan after a devastating earthquake.
“Pakistan earthquake relief operation
Just before the onset of the harsh Himalayan winter, a devastating earthquake hit Pakistan on 8 October 2005, killing an estimated 80 000 people and leaving up to three million without food or shelter.
On 11 October, in response to a request from Pakistan, NATO launched an operation to assist in the urgent relief effort. The Alliance airlifted close to 3,500 tons of supplies and deployed engineers, medical units and specialist equipment to assist in relief operations. This was one of NATO’s largest humanitarian relief operations, which came to an end on 1 February 2006.”
In terms of crisis management, NATO is militarily involved.
“NATO in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Between 1995 and 2004, NATO led a peace support force in Bosnia and Herzegovina, helping to maintain a secure environment and facilitating the country's reconstruction in the wake of the 1992-1995 war.
In light of the improved security situation, NATO brought its peace support operation to a conclusion in December 2004 and the European Union deployed a new force called Operation Althea. This has taken on the main peace stabilization role previously undertaken by NATO under the Dayton Peace Agreement. NATO has maintained a military headquarters in the country to carry out a number of specific tasks related, in particular, to assisting the government in reforming its defence structures.
NATO in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia¹
Responding to a request from the Macedonian government, NATO implemented three successive operations there from August 2001 to March 2003.
First, Operation Essential Harvest disarmed ethnic Albanian groups operating on Macedonia’s territory.
The follow-on Operation Amber Fox provided protection for international monitors overseeing the implementation of the peace plan.”
Now, why Libya?
“NATO’s Libya campaign drags on
NAPLES — As NATO bombs began to rain on Libya in March, President Obama and other Western leaders assured their war-weary publics that the campaign to protect civilians from Moammar Gaddafi’s crackdown would be over within weeks.
Now the coalition’s springtime incursion has stretched to summer, and Gaddafi’s resilience has startled the leaders who committed to the operation. Calls are growing to end it even as NATO pleads for more time.
As the campaign enters its fourth month, NATO officials insist that it is succeeding and that Gaddafi will become the Arab Spring’s third casualty. But that will happen, they say, only in a slow and steady advance on the capital as his troops run out of supplies, not in a flash of pyrotechnics that puts him out of power in an instant.
“The noose is tightening around him, and there are very few places for him to go,” Gen. Charles Bouchard, the Canadian head of the operations, said Saturday in an interview at his Naples headquarters. But, he added, “You don’t stay in power for 41 years and expect that he’s going to leave at the first sign of stresses.”
Indications of a fraying commitment to the mission were evident in a House vote Friday in which an unusual coalition of anti-war Democrats and tea party Republicans joined to pass a measure to reject Obama’s use of the American military in the operation, even as they declined to strip part of its funding. In Britain, a top commander said last week that if the campaign goes on past September, his forces could crack under the strain. On Wednesday, Italy’s foreign minister called for an immediate end to hostilities.
NATO has flown more than 4,700 strike sorties, pummeling bunkers, depots and vehicles and reducing much of Gaddafi’s army to ruins. It watches his military movements with drones that can remain in the sky for days.
Still, Gaddafi holds on, continuing to cause casualties in the rebel-held city of Misurata, in the mountain towns south of Tripoli and along the front line in the east.
Bouchard said NATO’s extreme caution about civilian deaths — in one case scuttling days of planning because a soccer game was being played next to a target — has slowed the campaign. The upshot, he said, is that there has been only one instance in which NATO thinks it may have caused civilian casualties and few opportunities for the Libyan government to present evidence of more.
Both sides say that credible allegations of civilian deaths probably are the best weapon Libya can use against NATO. The nervousness was palpable at NATO’s operational headquarters on Friday before major strikes on Brega, a now-depopulated city near the main front line that NATO says government troops have been using as a base.
NATO later said it hit seven command-and-control nodes in the city, along with 28 other targets. Libyan officials said Saturday that the strikes killed 15 civilians, but they did not present evidence to support that number and in the past have exaggerated when saying that civilians were killed in strikes.”
Will tomorrow’s headline read Gaddafi’s resilience defeats NATO? NATO must get smarter in matters like these. Fools rush in.
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